Thomas Merton wrote in his book Seeds of Contemplation that “every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.”
When I think back to my childhood, I am often surprised at the things I remember. On the surface level, they are seemingly random scenes stitched together by a general sense of how my childhood felt. But as I dig deeper, I uncover attitudes, beliefs, judgments, and abilities that originated from the impressions those experiences left upon my mind and soul.
For example, I have a very faint memory of riding in the bucket seat on the back of my dad’s bicycle, and another of him teaching me to ride my own bike. Later, I remember sitting in his lap in his Mazda with my hands on the steering wheel as we drove down our quiet neighborhood road. When I was in middle school, we took a trip out West, and he let me drive the car through the desert.
The general feeling those memories give me is a calm sense of adventure: the excitement of something dangerous combined with the comfort of my dad’s strong presence. And when I look closer, I see the lasting influence of these memories. Throughout it all, my dad was building my confidence, teaching me not to be afraid of things, even if they were activities typically reserved for older kids.
Everything about the way my parents raised me—educationally, behaviorally, morally, and so forth—showed me that they believed I could excel and instilled in me the sentiment expressed in 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (NLT).
The little memories you create for your children add up to become a great shaping force in their lives.